The Effervescence Of The French Touch


“Some claim the French Touch is in the tap water…”

I was invited to a charming bistro in a discreet Paris location to discuss The French Touch. At the table were a distinguished cast of cognoscente, whose names I am not at liberty to divulge.

Table talk centered on the essence of style over fashion, craftsmanship over mass production, i.e. made in ailleurs. There was the occasional chest beating and lament. Hey, Paris has a latin soul, but it was nothing a few cocktails couldn’t cure. The general consensus was that identifying The French Touch is like a sea dragon riding the wind.

These people I might add were not hide bound bores, but designers and players in the luxury sector. Off the record, one comment was: “Luxury brands like any other retailer deal in bottom lines. Fashion is a world driven by constant and persistent change.”

It is sometimes true that creatives try to cajole, persuade, and market their wares non-stop to an ever-fickle public looking for the next big thing. Where the concept of timelessness was once a by-word for quality, today luxury is the effervescence of shooting stars. Take a journey over to Louis Vuitton on the Champs-Elysees showcase, and engage with the current zeitgeist.

Although I have nothing against profitability, we must not confuse sales figures with taste or style. Real style is intangible and is intrinsic to a person’s persona. The concept of The French Touch is not any different. It is easy to identify, but quite difficult to replicate. It is as one lovely figure among us stated, “a state of mind”. The French actress, Marion Cotillion encapsulates the French touch to perfection in Woody Allen’s film, “Midnight In Paris”.

Just imagine you are dining with Lea Seydoux. She is sheepishly looking at you with those hypnotic eyes, and then says in that most Parisienne of voices: “Mon chou would you care to share a bottle of Foufoune“.

If this happens to you, you are done for. Cuite.

For those who aspire to capture this look, study Audrey Hepburn for guidelines. Although she was not French, she was not born in the States either. There was something quite mystical about her persona, which still captivates audiences. The term I would use to describe her is elegance. In her film with Fred Astaire, she causally remarks, “I am not beautiful; I have a funny face.” Ever the gentleman, Fred Astaire responded, “What you call funny, I call interesting.”

Audrey knew she had allure. Her clothes personified her character not the other way around. She was an ambassador for Hubert de Givenchy, and wore his clothes with panache. However, because her beauty was so natural, she was just as much at home in a pair of Levis. This is not just style but real class.

Three years ago, Ines de la Fressange published La Parisienne, and the book was an instant best seller in France. The book oozes with the style voice of one of Chanel’s former key models and taste trendsetters. Today, Ines is 50-something, and just as captivating as she was in her 20s. The book stands as a style guide to good taste for any contemporary woman, who wants to let loose her own version of The French Touch.

Visitors and designers alike claim that in this city men and women dress better than many other urban environments, and embody a certain je ne sais quoi. That “something” is well articulated in Ines book. It is also lovingly captured by the fashion photographer, Scott Schuman on his trend setting blog entitled, The Satorialist. Scott has the uncanny knack for capturing style across age groups. He demonstrates how personal and organic French style, really is. Every one can look great; it is a question of attitude, not money. His photographs make you drool. On his website, he features a whole ream of pictures taken in Paris, which give you a good feel for the French vibe.

I have another dear friend who claims that The French Touch is in the tap water. Drink the water at will he laughs and “voila”. Here, I am not so sure. The “Chateau Robinet 2014″ is barely drinkable. Perhaps, the water he was referring to, came from Reims in bottles, labelled, Bollinger. Baudelaire claimed that all French women had beautiful legs because they spent half their lives walking up and down countless flights of stairs.


“When stars get in your eyes…”

Someone remarked to me just the other day that everyone should have an uncle called “Christian”. It is true that Dior had certainly added to the modern vocabulary of contemporary woman. His feel for shape and color were unique. He knew how to drape fabric across a woman’s body, letting the woman’s body speak with its own voice, not necessarily calling attention to the clothes. Elegance is always a point of subtlety.

A contemporary style trend gathering more steam has been the craze for French vintage military field jackets, and those sailor’s shirts manufactured by St. James. The Lycée crowd has taken it up in spades, and it has spread to other circles throughout the heart of the BoBo-land. Designers have been borrowing concepts from vintage military clothing for ages; Jean-Paul Gautier is just one of the most successful.

Another key give away that your style code needs adjusting is when your clothes are too tight. This is not style, sorry. This is bad taste. Clothes should always be adjusted and be your size. Forget what the inner label says. Use a tape measure.

Want to laugh?

One of our global readers was recently asking what is the best colour for shirts. At first glance, I thought this was a philosophical question. I was about to consult my annotated copy of the Analects by Confucius, and caught myself saying, “Wait a second. Colour is personal”. The French like the Italians are fond of blue and white stripes of assorted versions. This design has a causal preppy style and can be worn with or without a tie. Speaking of ties, the bow tie has made a smashing comeback. This would have pleased my father no end. I find that bow ties are not only great in summer, but can also pass muster all year round. In case you would like to start fostering a collection, why not head over to Charvet near Place Vendome. Talk about the French Touch!

Article Title: Effervescence Of The French Touch
Photograph source: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on style | design | culture | art | food |

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Applying to Fashion School


“Everyone wishes they had an uncle named Giorgio…”

Experience has taught me that there isn’t a royal road if you plan to work in fashion, design, or style. The classic path is study at the best possible fashion school you can get admitted to. An alternative path is to choose an outstanding liberal arts education and pepper your studies with internships.

One of my favorites is the Giorgio Armani school of design. No folks, I am not making fun. Giorgio has no official school. What I mean is kick start your career the way he did: Be an apprentice to someone. Learn to sew, cut, and study design the old fashioned way.

No one can teach you good taste. For some it is innate, but even if you have talent in this direction, you need to nurture your abilities in the right environment. Creativity can be cultivated in a multitude of cross-disciplinary ways.

What a fashion school can provide is an aesthetic and intellectual environment to give you the tools and the community to grow your talent. Build a foundation in the fundamentals and learn the mechanics. More importantly, learn how to run a successful business. At some point, you will need to know about sourcing, manufacture, logistics, and the rest.

Finding the right school however, can be a difficult task. We’d like to help. So I had one of our guys draw up a list of the usual suspects, which you can consult on our blog under the title, Fashion School Rankings.

This list highlights more than classic design schools. At most of these institutions you can learn marketing, style, textiles, brand management as well as get a solid grounding in IT.

Fashion School Rankings should just serve you as a list to start your investigation. We asked fashion people what they recommended. They responded that you should pay more attention to the application requirements, tuition costs, demographics and location. Not all schools are the same. So what’s the message: If you want to be in fashion, you will need skills, a powerful network and talent.

Prices vary. Living in London, Paris or New York is a different kettle of fish than say studying in Helsinki.

How To Apply
Application requirements are similar. What you need is a stellar portfolio, High School diploma or Baccalaureate from a decent Lycée, letters of recommendation, and a powerful letter of motivation. Most programs are delivered in English, but not all.

If you have questions or need help with the details, drop us a line.
Contact Us:

Article Title: Applying To Fashion School
Photograph source: style-trumps-fashion

About The Author
Andrew Scharf is a regular contributor on Talent Development | Career Management | Personal Brand Management | Life & Career Coaching | MBA Admissions |

Let Careo start by celebrating your success story. We hold to the principle that it is not how good you are, but how good you would like to become. We are honored to have been recommended across the French media in – Le Figaro, L’Express, Capital – and by Success & Career in Switzerland.

As Mahatma Gandhi stated, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”.

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